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Car driving cheat sheet

After that fairly unforgettable driving adventure in South Dakota and some advice from many people I decided to jot down a list of things to check for when you drive. I’ll keep adding to this as time goes on.

  • Enough gas
  • No warning lights on dashboard
  • Seat movement, front and back
  • Seat backrest, front and back
  • Rear mirror adjust
  • Both side mirrors adjusting
  • Wipers on wind-shield outside
  • Blower/De-fogger
  • Air-conditioning
  • Heater
  • Headlights front
  • Headlights back
  • High beam
  • Dipper
  • Parking brake
  • Actual brakes
  • Turn indicator lights
  • Gear stick movement
  • Phone network
  • Offline Maps
  • Phone for 911 call

I plan to study all this regularly so it’s all burnt into my mind. Did I miss anything?

Some more driving adventures

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs where I drive, you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of those creepy monsters of various sizes that zip around the world at high speeds. They’re called cars. Anyway, sometimes I do drive them – mostly out of necessity. This weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was one such instance. Everything went well of course. I don’t know why you’re laughing. Fine. I’ll admit it. I’m lucky to be alive – again.

Before going to SD, I’d done a couple of ZipCar rounds. Neither gave me a warm fuzzy feeling of confidence. Why, you ask? Why?

For starters, in Drive 1 it rained all the time. Which would have been fine, had I known how to adjust the side mirrors. Or if I didn’t, bothered to read the manual before driving off like an arrogant fool. Or known how to adjust the seat. The drive was highly stressful, I missed numerous turns and got honked at loudly in a tunnel for driving too slow. So then I read the manual and found out how to use mirrors.

Drive 2 was worse. I decided to drive at night to get used to the darkness. It’d help then, if I knew how to turn the lights on. Or had read the manual. The same one, you know – where I found info about the mirrors. Ooh but no, I’m Michael Schumacher. That balloon burst around 2 minutes into the drive when I made more wrong turns and then realized I couldn’t see anything clearly. And that the only light that I could turn on was the high beam dipper. Wtf. Needed to pull into a Domino’s parking lot and read where the light switch was. Thankfully the people inside didn’t call 911 to arrest the fool flicking the high beam dipper at the wall, while reading a book. Anyway, I cancelled the fancy 18 mile drive plan and drove to Ballard instead. Surely, nothing could go wrong now. Right? You’re wrong – Nostradamus. I couldn’t find a parking spot, so went round and round – made an awful (possibly illegal) left turn in pitch dark and eventually found a spot. Going back home, I can’t remember how many wrong turns I made due to my ineptness at interpreting the thing that shouts from your phone “Head North on Fool’s drive, then turn left on to Moron avenue”.

Madison, SD. So you see, when I hopped off at 8pm at Sioux Falls, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence saying ‘I got this. I got this.’ while flipping podcasts with my index finger. The start was okay and I managed to get on to I 29. The 25ish mile drive then was okay. Till I had to take SD 34. It’s also called Exit 109 btw. So 0.5 miles before I see Exit 109 – SD 34. Nice. I GOT THIS. ‘In 1000 feet take SD 34 to Madison’. I GOT….. Omg Omg. Its Exit 109, not SD 34 (the 2nd board hadn’t printed SD 34). Got to go straight. I’m smart. I know the entire highway in and out. That’s why I knew I shouldn’t take that exit. Then my blood chills..

‘Re routing – continue on I 29 for 5 miles’ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Great. 5 miles later I take an exit and it takes me down dark, really f**** dark side roads and tells me to take random sharp turns. One such left turn was so creepy that I couldn’t see the yellow dividing line and happily turned into the closest lane. Only when I saw headlights coming straight at me rapidly, did I realize I was trying to commit suicide. A hasty switch of lanes, a 5 mile drive back on I29 S and then the correct exit eventually landed me at Motel 8. Phew.

Sioux Falls, SD. 2 days later it was time to drive back. For some stupid reason, I’d taken a 5 am flight. This meant very little sleep and a drive back on the poorly lit roads of SD at 2 30 in the morning. Oh well, can’t be too much different. Oh fuck. Fog. How do you clear fog off? I need a rag now. No rag. Boston sweatshirt sleeves to the rescue. Okay okay I GOT THIS!!! Turn on the lights ffs. Right let’s go. Omg. I can barely see a thing. Mirrors are practically useless. I’m fairly scared at this point. I’m literally looking through needle spots on the windshield.

Too much fog. It’s too dangerous. I pull off onto the shoulder. At 3 am ffs. In South Dakota. With no mobile network and only offline maps. Let some cool air into the car. Wipe everything off as much as I can. It slowly gets a bit better. Wiper working in overdrive every minute. The inside doesn’t defog well at all after a time, but I can see better now. Luckily, for some reason when I’m really scared, I become very logical. Why Idk. Maybe that’s the body realizing it and releasing hormones to stop me from overthinking. Anyway, exit to I 29 S….

Oh fuck. I can’t see the exit. I can’t see the turn. Look into the rear view mirrors. Slow down. Pass the exit. Stop. I stopped the car. In front of an exit. LET THAT SINK IN. Turn gratefully. Zip off and merge into I 29S. More lights. Phew. Let’s fill gas now. Guess what? I don’t know how to do that either. I mean, I know how to fill gas up – but where’s the thing to open the gas opening? Push all buttons. Then remember Dinesh has told me it’ll be a ‘pull’ somewhere. Look down. Ooh yes. Pull. Phew. Fill up gas gratefully.

3 miles only. Miss another right turn. Omg. No offline maps for that area. Now what? I can’t take the next turn because I’m not sure at all – if it’ll route me back correctly. I’m 4 blocks past the right turn. Look into the rear view mirror. NO cars. Hmm. Reverse. 4 blocks. I probably looked drunk. The reverse wasn’t straight at all. Anyway, I live…

Take the right. Go off to the airport. Nearly there. Just a mile and a half. Why is a red and blue guy flashing at me? Oh f*** no. Cops. I pull over. Hands on wheel. The cop was really nice though. Asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I didn’t know for sure, but guessed it was the stupid reversing stunt. Luckily, I can’t lie. To anyone. I just know how to tell the truth. And I mean every bit, in real life I mean. So when I’m in trouble, it’s easy to see I’m not fking around. He checked my license, told me that I could just take a U turn next time (of course #-o), joked about how terrible it was that I had to come to Madison for a conference :). I apologized profusely, went off to the airport, parked in the Hertz slot, wrote down my mileage and dropped my keys in.

Got to my gate and sat down. Wondered how I managed to make it through. Sometimes… sometimes life kicks you in the balls, but sometimes it gives you breaks you don’t deserve. It allowed me to screw up again and again and again, but in Madison, SD – the middle of nowhere – where there were no cars on the road at all. And that above all – is the only reason I’m not in hospital or jail but sitting in Seattle on my laptop writing this blog.

I can drive, I promise. I’m a very clean driver 95% of the time. But sometimes, sometimes… ๐Ÿ™‚ you know what I mean. Until next time then. Adios ๐Ÿ™‚

Feminism

This is a subject that I’ve thought about for a long time as a professional. There’s so many different nuances to thisย  – that make it a very complex subject to discuss. Recently though after the entire Uber – Susan Fowler fuck up, it came up at work again and like I always do – I opened my mouth on a complex subject and talked about it ๐Ÿ™‚ publicly and privately. I tried to make my points and educate myself more about it though. And of course eventually.. after a discussion with a female colleague, I decided that I was going to write a little about it. I’ll just hit the main spots in my thought process – it is too complex to fit every nuance into a blog.

So let’s jump straight in. Feminism basically exists to ensure that women get a fair deal and are treated equally everywhere. It is present because clearly there are a large number of chauvinistic idiots who feel entitled to grope women or rape them or deny them promotions (or whatever else) because of her gender. And their gender.

Work

The sooner all that behaviour is stamped out – the better. The sooner every female is treated on par with every man – based on merit – the better. The more there are campaigns about being treated equally, the better. The more education worldwide talks about gender equality, the better. The more stereo-typing is ended, the better. You get my drift. I’m all for female equality…but..yes there’s a but..

.. I’m for it as long as it is based on merit. If a girl is smarter than the 99 other males, she should get the job or the spot or whatever she is competing for. If a girl and a guy are exactly the same on every possible parameter that they are being judged on and there’s no way to decide? Give the girl the job, it’s fine. Specially if it is a male dominated profession. Doing so will send out the message that your gender doesn’t matter. If you’re good enough, you will make it. I grew up through a system that reeked of sycophancy, favouritism and reservations based on colour, religion, caste and gender. I’m not ever agreeing on anything non-merit.

The moment though, you have a male who is actually better – on merit – purely on merit, and people decide that he doesn’t get a job because there are too many men? – it is a problem for me. The moment that happens it is unfair. On 1 man at least. And that’s wrong. And there’s no way I can say that it’s fine because the woman also was good. Sure, she was. No one denies it. But at that point, in that situation – the man was better – he should get the job.

Assault

The more every male who sexually assaults a female is brought to book – the better. The more the law encourages females to come up and speak, the better. The more the law protects them when threatened, the better. The more every rapist gets life imprisonment the better. And yes, I’m in no doubt whatsoever, that most sexually tinged cases have the female as a victim and the male as the assaulter. So yes, protect women more and help them as much as is possible in every way to not be traumatized. But..

.. you need to prove it. Be fair to the man as well. Treat every case individually without having an unconscious bias, that ‘all men are pigs’ and hence if a woman came up, this man was certainly guilty. Be fair, do your investigation and then mete out the punishment – as necessary. Do not simply crucify the man just because statistics say so. Be fair. Just because there have been numerous horror stories against women, this one isn’t automatically one more.

Conclusion:

I’ve tried to be very honest here. I’m probably guilty of having some unconscious biases myself, and as so many at work said – ‘Because you’re a man, you can’t understand’. Yes. Certainly, that is true and I attempt to educate myself all the time. And if I’ve made mistakes, please come and tell me. I will listen to you carefully at the very least. And will ask questions to educate myself. We might not agree in the end – but I hope, at least, we both walk away respectfully having obtained another perspective.

I’ll end with a link. It was terrible for both the man and the woman here. Read it. But then pause and think. It could all have been so much better. Thank You for reading.

Lacto vegetarian to vegan

I’ve been a lacto vegetarian all my life. If you didn’t click the link – it basically means – I eat no meat or eggs, but eat milk and milk products. That’s what I was for a good 30+ years of my life.

After coming to the USA though and finding out about vegan-ism, learning more about the dairy industry and then moving to Seattle where there are plenty of vegan options – I’ve been making this gradual change to a dairy free diet over the last few months. I’m not there yet, its hard to switch after 30 years, and loving food cooked a certain way ๐Ÿ™‚ – but I’m nearly there, and personally I’m a little proud of having accomplished that.

I switched to Non-Dairy milk (Wildwood, Silk, Trader Joe’s), Non-Dairy yoghurt (Kite Hill, Nancy and recently Forager), Oil based butter (Earth Balance) and Vegan Cheese (Follow Your heart). I do use other brands as well, but the point being – there’s plenty of alternatives and my food (I do cook quite a bit) tastes just as good.

That apart, I’ve been using synthetic materials for shoes, jackets and any of my clothing needs. Last month I bought a pair of synthetic warm socks (Wrightsock) so I can slowly give away my Smartwool socks and stop subsidizing the wool industry.

There’s trace elements of milk in some of the packaged food I consume, and it is kinda hard to get that out of my diet as well – but maybe some day, going forward – I’ll be able to do that too. I’m not sure how many options I’ll have if I go back to Mumbai, some day – but for now, I have them – so I’m trying ๐Ÿ™‚

Why Trump got elected

I’ve never been a big politics fan. Its just one group against another group. Its one evil in favour of another evil. And yes I’ve never voted. Yes, you can call me names and a coward and a fool. I don’t care. I might change my mind in the future, but for now, I really couldn’t care less.

The reason I say this now is because I’ve watched incredulously as Trump gets elected as the President of the USA. Its not because I thought Hilary Clinton was the greatest in the world. But the stuff that Trump has said, in multiple different ways – has made me (and I’m not even close to caring about being politically correct) open my eyes really wide and wonder. If I said any of that stuff out in public, I’d be called out big-time and in fairly deep trouble. I would probably lose my job and have to go back home. At the very least.

But yet, somehow in the USA of all places – he’s managed to get an audience who has overlooked all the shit that he’s said and voted for him. The only reason I think Trump has got elected, is because he has projected himself as wildly different by completely confusing everyone about his true motives. And not as a politician. Had he tried to do this the “usual” route, he probably wouldn’t have won.

People are probably sick of political correctness. And of people saying the right thing in public to pander to one group or the other. And when Trump comes in, he says all these things which make you cringe, but yet deep down everyone (I know I have) wonders if he could really do what he says and be this big world leader that everyone wants.

The fact that he lies (probably on some/most) so confidently, has counted. People are now probably thinking, “If he actually does half of what he says he will… I’ll take that chance and vote for him. Because I’m sick of everyone else who says the same things and does the same things – but it ends up being old wine in a new bottle.”

I tried reading a little about his claims about Mexicans and his stance on abortion. What he really thinks if you read every word is as clear as mud. Just like many many other politicians. But he’s made a brash, outlandish statement and its grabbed ears.. and captured people’s imaginations.

Somehow people want change. Whether that is for better or worse, they don’t (I certainly don’t know) and may never know. But they want change. Its not just politics, its life. We can debate the details a million times but at the core this is the only reason he has got voted in to power. If its different, people hope. Trump’s different.

Whether Trump ends up banning abortions, banning Muslims, creates jobs for America, builds a wall or bombs Syria till it is gone all together, I don’t know. But he’s talked big and he’s talked a lot and its been different. And people have jumped at that, and clung on to it like its the only option going forward.

Personally, I don’t have a stance. I’m fairly sure everything will be just the way it is irrespective of who gets elected to power. There’ll be some change, here and there but politics is politics and the world is too deeply intertwined for anything serious to happen. I think so anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Belated Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a big deal in the USA and I wanted to write this then but somehow did not. So I want to write it now.

The problem with a lot of ‘festivals’ (loosely used) is that there’s religion attached to it. And that puts me off it big-time. And I don’t celebrate any of them personally. I enjoy the holidays, the nice food, the fact that everyone is in a good mood and if I’m lucky family’s around. But that’s it. But then I started wondering, I don’t need to be religious to give thanks, which is all really the literal meaning of the word is. So here’s my list of things I am thankful for:

  • Mom and Dad who continue to be pillars in my life. I don’t always get along with them, but they’re awesome.
  • My few friends who are always around when I’m upset or need support.
  • For a great work environment.
  • For good colleagues who are an inspiration on the learning front and who are never bad to me.
  • For earning a lot which hence gives me the freedom to think of a better quality of life.
  • For being able to have freedom of thought on contentious issues.
  • For being able to live in a city which is very progressive food wise.
  • For an ORCA card which lets me travel everywhere without a car.
  • To everyone who has taught me things and continue to do so. Its priceless.
  • For having so many opportunities to learn new hobbies when I stop being lazy.
  • For having lovely parks and places to stroll about when I want to.

I’m sure there’s more, but these are key at this point in my life. Maybe next year I will have another set to be thankful for :).

CPR Class

I did a CPR class at CPR Seattle the other day. It was really nice and I learnt some new stuff. Here is what you do when there’s a cardiac arrest and a person is unresponsive. This is just *my understanding* of the situation – it is NOT a replacement for any training.

  • Clear the scene. Make sure no one else gets hurt while you’re attending to this patient.
  • Try and make the patient respond. If its an adult or grown child, gently slap his/her face. If its a baby, slap the feet.
  • If there’s no response, feel for a pulse in the neck for an adult (carotid), the femoral (thigh) artery or for a baby, the brachial artery (inner arm)
  • At the same time watch for the chest heaving. If there is nothing, the person may not be breathing.
  • Say loudly that you’re going to start CPR, and get people around you to call 911 and get an AED.
  • Start giving CPR. Keep one hand on the center of the chest , put the other hand on top and push down firmly. Let the chest rebound back. About 100-120 compressions a minute is what is needed.
  • Keep your elbows straight and push down rhythmically. Don’t do it too hard or jerkily. Every compression must be perfect.
  • For babies, use just fingers to give compressions. With children maybe a single hand might be enough, decide based on the size of the child.
  • Every 30 compressions, tilt the person’s head back to clear their airways and give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 2 breaths inside 10 seconds and go back to giving CPR.
  • Don’t breathe in too hard. Breathe just enough so the person’s chest rises.
  • Repeat 5 cycles of 30 compressions and 2 breaths. If the person has still not risen, its time to use the AED.
  • Let someone else do compressions after 2 minutes at most if that’s possible.

Using an AED:Connect the AED (defibrillator) so it turns on. Follow its directions. Usually this is as follows:

  • Attach pads to patient. One is near the top of the right shoulder, the other below the left-sided ribs. This is so the heart is between the pads.
  • The AED tries to analyse the patients rhythms (VT/VF). If normal, the AED will not shock the patient.
  • If it decides there is a problem, it will tell you to stay clear. Do NOT touch the patient at this point.
  • A shock will be administered and the AED will charge again.
  • Make sure that you continue administering high quality compressions and breaths while the AED charges
  • Once the AED tells you to stay clear, stay clear.
  • Press the button and a shock will be administered.
  • Repeat till the person opens their eyes and regains consciousness.
  • For children there might be a switch to turn it into child mode. If this is not there, use the adult AED – its better than doing nothing.